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Skyping it up with Frank Anthony Polito

Written By: Melanie September 9, 2009 One Comment

So, there we were last Saturday night, 8/22/, seven members of the book discussion group, “Skyping” with one of our favorite writers, Frank Anthony Polito, author of Band Fags! and Drama Queers! It was an awesome climax to a year’s worth of buzz.

dramaq

The youth launched the book club in 2008. One of the first selections was Band Fags!, the sometimes campy, sometimes heartbreaking, semi-autobiographical account of growing up gay in the 80’s. The novel focuses on best friends Jack Paterno and Brad Dayton from their first meeting in junior high all the way to high school graduation. By senior year, deeply closeted Jack breaks all ties to the more outspoken Brad who appears both effortlessly popular yet true to himself. Polito says Band Fags! was originally written as a play. He freely admits basing Jack on himself, and the story is told from the latter’s point of view, thereby setting up the premise for Drama Queers!, which was published this past July. Brad narrates the companion volume, which follows his own reckoning during that last year in school. Drama Queers! shows that in spite of all his finger-pointing at Jack, Brad is just as capable of being a closet case, and he hurts the boy he loves. Interestingly, Polito says that although he is the obvious  model for Jack, a friend provided the inspiration for Brad, though the author also used aspects of himself that he withheld in Band Fags! in order to further develop Brad’s character.

YFT’s relationship with Polito began earlier this year when intern Tracy Nanthavongsa received an advance copy of Drama Queers! for review on his blog. This initial contact led Polito to the book club, and soon plans were underway for a possible in-person visit or the Skype event. Polito also arranged for book club members to have their own personally inscribed copies of Drama Queers! for a bargain price; moreover, a private donor made wishes come true by generously writing a check to keep the book club afloat after an SMU grant was depleted. Definitely win-win.

Utilizing technology that makes it possible to hold avideo conference through thebandfagscover_sm wireless Internet, Polito enthusiastically answered the youths’ questions about both books, and publishing in general. Also, because he’d had a chance to read a copy of Queer Subtext, the YFT literary anthology, he told everyone how much he enjoyed their poetry, expressing admiration that they could effectively write about their own feelings and experiences with the brevity that poetry requires while he, on the other hand, needed pages and pages to tell his characters’ stories. Best of all, he reminded the youth that so much of the business of being a writer is not about what you know, but who you know—and then he added reassuringly, “And now you know me.”

One Comment »

  • Zack said:

    True Story! ^_^

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